Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 24 November 2016

Biosciences Seminar Series - Autumn 2016
24 November 2016 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Hot dogs: understanding climate change impacts in a tropical mammal

Prof Rosie Woodroffe

Our speaker of this week, Prof Rosie Woodroffe from the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London, will present her research on the ecological drivers of an African carnivore, the wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Rosie's research is wide ranging and interdisciplinary, at the interface of conservation biology, wildlife management, disease ecology, and animal behaviour/behavioural ecology, and with a strong commitment to using science to influence both policy and conservation action. Whilst hence most of her research applied, not rarely has it lead also to advancements of basic ecological interest. 

Rosie's main research focuses on three themes. Regarding the conservation of wildlife that conflicts with people, an increasingly important topic in human-dominated landscapes, her work has focused on identifying the ecological drivers of human-wildlife conflicts (especially in African carnivores) and finding technical measures to resolve the latter. Her work on infectious disease in ecology and conservation has lead her to become one of the most important UK researchers on the contentious issue of the role of badgers in bovine tuberculosis (TB; e.g. see here). Her work on species conservation planning has led her to become part of the IUCN/SSC Task Force on Species Conservation Planning, coordinate the African wild dog working group of the IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, and in drafting recovery plans and national management plans for endangered species across America and Africa.

Last, but not least, Rosie won the Science Slam at the 2015 BES Annual Meeting (see here), so we might well expect an engaging talk!

Climate change imposes an urgent need to recognise and conserve the species likely to be worst affected. Physiologists predict direct impacts of rising ambient temperatures on tropical species, yet ecologists have mostly characterised indirect effects on temperate and polar species. In this talk I will describe direct impacts of high ambient temperatures on reproductive success in a tropical carnivore, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). 

High temperatures directly constrained wild dog packs’ foraging time, especially during the energetically-costly pup-rearing period. Packs which reared pups at high ambient temperatures produced fewer recruits, and took longer to produce their next litter, than did those rearing pups in cooler weather. Over time, rising temperatures coincided with falling wild dog recruitment, suggesting that climate change may already be impacting this endangered species. 

These impacts would have been missed by simplistic trait-based assessments of climate change vulnerability, highlighting a need for species-specific assessments where possible, especially among tropical wildlife.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars this term, see here, here, and here.

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